A desperate search for the dead in submerged city

Srinagar: Amidst the debris of what was once a three-storey house, snack-seller Jitendar Saha desperately searches for the body of his 20-year-old daughter.

The devastating floods that swept the city not only left Saha's daughter dead but also four other members of his family - wife, two daughters and a son.

In the past four days, Saha has cremated members of his family but the bodies of his wife and the elder daughter are still stuck under the rubble of the collapsed house in Jawahar Nagar locality of the city.

Saha's dream to see his daughter Priyanka, a second year BA student at Government College Srinagar make it big in life and end the penury of the family, was shattered with her death.

A resident of Bihar, Saha along with his family shifted to Srinagar in 2001 where he sold snacks outside a hospital to sustain his family and provide education to his children.

"I earned my livelihood by selling snacks in Srinagar.My elder daughter was a brilliant student, she wanted to become an officer to end our miseries," he said.

Recounting the day when the city was hit by the deluge, Saha said when the floodwater starting entering the house where he had stayed for several years in Jawahar Nagar locality, he took shelter at a nearby house not knowing his decision to move to another house would be catastrophic for the family.

"As the water continued to rise, we decided to move further up. Suddenly the current of the water increased and the house collapsed," he said.

Saha somehow caught hold of a wooden plank, which helped him save his life, but the other members of his family including his wife, three daughters and a son were not as lucky.

He helplessly watched his entire family die in front of his eyes. "I cried for help for the whole night. Never in my life I felt so helpless.I should have also died," he says.

With the help of locals, Saha has been able to recover the bodies of two of his daughters, a son and two other close relatives. "Why am I alive?" asks Saha with tears rolling down his cheeks.

"God has been so cruel to me. My entire family is finished now. How can I tell my mother who stays back in Bihar that her entire clan is finished now," he says.

The local Sikh population in Srinagar has been helping Saha cremate his family members, as the recovered bodies are too decomposed to be transported to his native place for final rites.

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